Longevity really is the gift that keeps on giving. (And giving!) And while we can't bottle up the Fountain of Youth, unfortunately, we can take a hint from the residents of the Blue Zones, aka, the longest-living people in the world. In these five places around the globe (Ikaria, Greece, Nicoya, Costa Rica, Loma Linda, California, Sardinia, Italiy, and Okinawa, Japan, for reference), people regularly live to age 100 and older. The secret? Well, there are many—from dietary habits to napping (yes, napping), the holistic lifestyles of Blue Zones residents often lead to longer, happier lives.
Before you go booking a ticket to these places (now that would be a good present...), give your wallet a break with a Blue Zone-inspired gift. Transport your loved ones to the jungles of Nicoya with a batch of Costa Rican coffee or box of decadent dark chocolate, or soothe them with a Okinawa-inspired gardening kit and floor mat. Like we said, it's not the Fountain of Youth, but these gifts are pretty darn close.
Gifts inspired by the Blue Zones, home to the longest-living people in the world
In Ikaria, olive oil is liquid gold, a cornerstone in many of the resident’s cooking routines. This bundle from Kosterina brings the Mediterranean lifestyle to your giftees’ kitchens so they can enjoy the magic of Greek olive oil themselves. Each set comes with two bottles of the brands antioxidant-rich olive oils that are perfect for drizzling, frying, and dressing, plus a copy of the brand’s cookbook, which is packed with recipes for a “healthier, more delicious life.” Yum.
Hiking and walking plays a large role in the lives of many Ikarians, not necessarily for exercise, but just from living at higher altitudes in the islands mountains. Treat the hiker (or soon-to-be-hiker) in your life with these adjustable trekking poles that make navigating treacherous terrain easy breezy. They’re made from strong aluminum alloy and feature a comfortable EVA grip (bye bye, blisters), and are adjustable, easy to lengthen or shorten to match their height.
Ikarians don’t sleep on mid-afternoon naps, which can help lower their heart rates and stress levels, bettering their overall health. Every napper needs a good, warm blanket, like this plush one from Chappywrap. Its quite literally the coziest throw your giftee will ever snuggle up in. Just a fair warning: You’ll want to keep it for yourself.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t all just olive oil and fish—Ikarians cook with many healthy herbs, too, like oregano, rosemary, and thyme, enhancing their dishes while giving their bodies some TLC, too. Whether there’s a home chef on your list or a green thumb, this indoor herb garden will make them smile this holiday. It swaps soil for water, which helps plants grow 5x faster when put under the included grow light. Each kit includes two types of basil, mint, thyme, dill, and parsley.
Nicoya, Costa Rica
You think we’d write about Costa Rica without a coffee nod?! Pfft. If you want to live long like a Nicoyan, start your day with a local cup of joe, like this beautiful batch from Onyx. While Onyx is based in Arkansas, the coffee comes straight from the Chacon family in Costa Rica who had a hand in honey processing honey coffee (another type of coffee that’s good for you.) It’s fruity and sweet and so delicious, you’ll want to keep it for yourself.
Costa Rica is notoriously a sunny place and while a healthy helping of vitamin D is good for us, you still need to be careful. This December, stuff a bottle of Dune sunscreen in your loved ones stocking. It’s an editor favorite for its invisible formula that actually goes on clear and clean. There’s no white residue or purple-ish tint—the gel cream rubs seamlessly into skin to protect you but not cramp your style.
Like other Blue Zones, Nicoyans love family and the centenarians who live their frequently live with family, be it children or grandchildren. While you probably don’t want Mom and Dad to move in with you (and vice versa!) a framed family photo makes a touching gift and gives off a feeling of closeness even when you’re loved ones aren’t physically nearby. For $100, you can upload your favorite photo, choose a frame, and the brand will deliver a gorgeous, ready-to-hang memory straight to your door.
Dark chocolate is a sneakily healthy tasty treat many Blue Zone residents—including the Nicoyans—indulge in. Thanks to its heaping load of antioxidants and heart-healthy properties, it’s one of the better-for-you candies out there. This tasting set from Jcoco includes five unique dark chocolate bars curated to deliver a divine dessert experience. Each set includes facts about the chocolate, like where it’s sourced and how much cacao is in it, as well as a tasting guide so you can fully relish in their sweet, chocolate-y deliciousness.
Loma Linda, California
Many of the inhabitants of Loma Linda are plant-based, or at the very least, semi-vegetarian. Whether or not the person on your list is already an herbivore or has been dabbling with giving up meat, they’ll love this cookbook, which was developed by celebrity chef Charity Morgan. Enjoy 100+ meals that are 100 percent plant-based and 100 percent scrumptious.
Available sizes: XXS-XXL
In every Blue Zone, inhabitants live a more active lifestyle and engage in natural movement more frequently, be it through walking, hiking, and even gardening. No matter the activity, the Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 Leggings will keep your giftees comfortable and ready for anything. For higher-intensity sports, they’re sweat-wicking and compressive, but for low-intensity activities (or relaxing), they’re stretchy and easy to move in. And, since they come in 20+ colors and patterns, there’s truly a legging for everyone on your list.
According to the Blue Zones website, Loma Linda is home to a large population of Seventh Day Adventists and, per a health survey, drink an average 5-6 glasses of water daily to prevent heart attack and disease. Hydration is a great gift, as is this convenient water bottle that let’s drinkers sip in style. There’s actually a built-in straw that makes for easy sipping when you don’t want to go the gulp route. And no warm water here—the double-wall insulation keeps water chilled for 24 hours at a time.
Most of the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda take a day to honor their religious beliefs, rest, and reflect. Spiritual or not, it’s nice to carve out time to pause, reflect, and express gratitude for what we’re thankful for. This gratitude journal from Papier provides writers with their own “sanctuary” of sorts, an open book for them to jot down the things they’re thankful for, as well as affirmations, reminders, and memories.
Like Ikaria, Sardinia is very mountainous, causing its residents to walk and trek during their daily routines. These cloud-like shoes make a perfect gift for the person in your life who loves to walk or wants to do more of it. Made with the brand’s signature extended heel and pillowy outsole, they’re like little mattresses for feet. Give ’em to your friends and family and watch as they never take ’em off.
Yes, Sardinians love red wine, but not just any wine—cannounau wine which has 2-3x the level of healthy flavinoids compared to other wines, according to the Blue Zones website. Whoever finds this bottle under their tree will be delighted to sip on such rich, hearty flavors. Pair with pasta or steak, and they’ll feel like they’re actually in Italy, eating a dinner al fresco under the stars.
Olive oil is definitely the condiment of choice in Sardinia, too. While Graza’s decadent oils are technically Spanish, they’re healthy and tasty nonetheless. This pack comes with two bottles: One of “Drizzle,” which is made for pouring over bread or pesto, and one “Sizzle” which is made for heating up while you’re frying or sautéing. Your recipients will say grazi for Graza.
According to the Blue Zones site, Sardinians love to laugh and spend a lot of time gathering with friends to do so. Considering laughter is the best medicine (and has been linked to health benefits such as lower heart disease, boosted immunity, and lowered stress levels) give a gift everyone can enjoy, like this party game. The premise is simple: Each card starts with “Who in the room…?” before asking a hypothetical (or literal!) question. Then, everyone points to the person who’s most likely to fulfill that prompt. It’s fun, lighthearted, and a great way to get your friends giggling.
In Okinawa, green tea is a favorite for its refreshing taste, healthy antioxidants, naturally energizing properties. This tasty trio includes a sampling of nutty Darjeeling green tea, as well as a tangy lemongrass/ginger blend, and a warm, floral black tea. A great gift for cozy lovers, especially as the winter temps settle in.
Okinawans love to garden (and reap the fruits of their labor, too!). Plant parents and flower fanatics alike will appreciate this gardening set from Bloomscape, which includes everything they need to care for their delicate, green babies. Each tool roll comes with a hand shovel, plant pruner, and snips, so their houseplants and outdoor gardens can thrive.
Traditionally, many Okinawans sit on the floor to eat, socialize, and relax. In turn, they stay extra mobile and limber, even as they grow older, from sitting down and getting up. If you want to give the gift of mobility, check out this yoga mat from Manduka, which is great for yoga but also other activities. It even makes sitting still on the floor a bit more comfy, providing a smidge of cushioning and shock-absorption on unforgiving surfaces.
While kelp is a big part of the Okinawan diet, we don’t think your friends or family would appreciate a pile of seaweed sitting in their stocking. Instead, opt for these puffed kelp chips, which are much yummier and easier to clean up. Made from North American kelp, they’re jam-packed with natural vitamins and minerals and taste just as good as potato chips. As for flavor, there’s chili, everything seasoning, and of course, sea salt.
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